Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Quarter Final Failure

Sheffield United 2- Charlton Athletic 0.
The dust has now settled and I can put my thoughts in order with regards last weekend.

The final score pops up on my iPhone.

If you were there on Sunday, you know what happened.
If you weren’t, and you’re reading this, then it’s highly likely you were either watching the events on BT sport or you were following the game on t’wireless.
5,300 followers of Charlton made it up the M1 for a midday kick off on a Sunday, when public transport wasn’t an option on the day.
Oop North.

Oddly, pre game, I didn’t speak to anyone who fully believed we were going to edge past Sheffield United. The best most people were prepared to acknowledge was “we have a chance”.
In truth, we really shouldn’t have been there at all.
I sat next to Hungry Ted at the Oxford game, shrugging my shoulders as Charlton performed the traditional CCCC – (Charlton Cup Competition Capitulation), players trudging in at the break 2-0 down.
That should have been it.
A Yann inspired comeback gave us breathing space to try again at their place. Then we went up to Huddersfield, then Sheffield Wednesday, both places I was expecting us to get a whupping.
Yet somehow Charlton won through.
So we found ourselves in a Quarter Final. One game from Wembley.
New Wembley is a place our neighbours Palace and Millwall have both recently had days out. Just maybe we could have one too?  
The last 8 of the FA cup had been unchartered territory since I flew from Gatwick, on a Charlton chartered plane, to see us play at ‘Boro.
We took a ludicrously large following that night considering the distance.
As ever, the Charlton support left the ground downcast after Jimmy Floyd Piggybanks had shown he was just ‘too good’ for us.
“If only we had a player like him”, I remember thinking.
History was to prove me a pretty bad judge.
Charlton are not a ‘big’ team.
We don’t win cups and we don’t generally perform that well in the league. We are a mid table second tier club who have at times, over achieved while at others looked rather hopeless.
Nobody is going to support Charlton in this city if they are a glory hunting pot chaser.
Despite this, we have a healthy support, though it’s obviously dwarfed by the Premier League clubs.
A 'proper' football stadium. I rather like Bramall Lane

Despite my protestations all week that I ‘knew’ we’d lose, I also knew that it was our best chance to visit Wembley in a long time.
I wasn’t alone in this. That’s why so many people felt hurt and upset at the rather feeble performance on Sunday.
At half time, the only kind thing to say was that as poor as we were, Sheffield United weren’t punishing us and at least we weren’t losing.
I said to Crispy and Ted that I believed the first goal would be the winner. Neither side looked like scoring at that point.
Harriot missed (what looked from the other end of the ground) an absolute sitter with the ‘keeper on walkabout. He only had to get the ball on target.
He didn’t.
That was our chance. Within a few minutes, United had scored, then scored a killer (jammy) second goal within another minute,when the ball deflected off Wood.
Game over.
Sheffield United looked like world beaters, Charlton looked like a team who were just begging for the referee to call time.
The Blades were worthy winners and deserve their day at Wembley.
As ever, Charlton had taken me to the closest point, where I almost let myself believe something good might happen, then ripped it away when it was within touching distance.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
When was the last time we took a ‘large’ following and the team responded?
I remember being in a crowd over over 4,000 Addicks at Leyton Orient in League 1 when we roared the team to victory.
Is that it?
Pretty pathetic really.
 I strolled into work on Monday morning to be met by caring and understanding people who all expected me to be rather downcast.
I wasn’t.
I’d had a rather exceptional weekend away with friends.
Charlton Boys on patrol. L-R Al, Me, Crispy, Jim. (Bolts and Ted out of shot). Photo by Ted.

If it hadn’t been for Charlton Athletic, it’s highly unlikely we’d have all been up in Sheffield on a Saturday night, enjoying what the city has to offer.
'interesting' artwork on the wall of the DaDa bar

We drank some of the finest beers I’ve had in a while from some great pubs, that weren’t hampered by the London prices we are used to paying.
When was the last time someone handed you a fiver and expected you to buy two drinks with it?
Before last weekend, I think it was about 1992…. ;-)
A round of 6 beers, (some of them rather show off craft efforts) could be paid for with a £20 note.
My kind of town.
We talked rubbish, we drank beer, we laughed, we attempted to buy each others clothing, (hi Bolts), we found a curry house where none of the staff were Asian, we rapped Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash to the annoyance of taxi drivers and finally went back to our hotel to sleep it off, safe in the knowledge we had a huge breakfast buffet to get stuck into in the morning.
A glorious sunny Sunday morning in Sheffield.

Then we went to the football………………

No comments: